The ability to travel around the globe, visiting new locations and absorbing different cultures, is something that we all take for granted in today’s world. International travel has never been more affordable and there have never been so many options for transport, accommodation, and even things to do once we arrive at our chosen destination. While many of us think of tourism as being a relatively recent phenomenon, it is actually as old as civilization itself. It seems that our innate desire to explore and to experience new things has always existed.

Early Educational Tourism

Even in the classical world of antiquity, tourism existed in an early form. Travel was divided into two categories, recreational, and educational. Early educational travel was of huge value to the states that existed at the time. It was through travel between different states that knowledge was most effectively able to spread between different cultures and peoples. Without this form of travel, which had the acquisition and transfer of knowledge as its primary goal, many nations of the time would have struggled to keep up with their rivals technologically.

Early Recreational Travel

Recreational travel at the time, however, was something of a luxury. The average person simply couldn’t afford to travel and lacked the necessary resources to make even a relatively short trip. With modes of transport being restricted, and without any real international networks of roads, it was difficult to make journeys that are trivial today. This was a time long before bypasses existed, and so large natural obstacles would have to be circumvented, with considerable time being added to journeys.

Precursors to Modern Tourism

It wasn’t until the 18th century when anything resembling tourism as we know it today appeared. It was around this time that technology advanced sufficiently to allow us to construct more refined modes of transport, as well as the necessary infrastructure to allow more efficient and faster travel. It was still only the privileged classes and their immediate families that were able to take advantage of travel opportunities. It was also still usually the case that travel was undertaken with the goal of furthering education.

The concept of a guided tour or holiday also began to surface during this time period. However, these were not short holidays. The average tour holiday would last anywhere from one to three years, although this was again partly a reflection of the limited modes of transportation available. Pax Britannica was in full swing at the time, and so most of these tours would have originated in England with continental Europe as the most common destination.

Gradually, the barriers which prevented the middle classes from being able to undertake similar excursions began to disappear and so the availability to the average person began to expand dramatically. An online masters in history course is an excellent way to learn more about this fascinating point in human history. Norwich University is just one of the leading universities which offer an online master of art in history program.

It is often said that travel broadens the mind, and anyone who has undertaken a journey into an entirely new culture can attest to this fact. The nature of tourism has changed significantly over the years and the way that it has done so is truly fascinating. The full history of tourism is too long for a single article, but check out this comprehensive guide for more information.